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What's Trending in the Art World

| Amy Hutto

As creatives, it is absolutely critical that we stay true to ourselves and not hop from trend to trend. That being said, it is also critical that we lift our heads up from our work and take a look at the art world around us and see what is trending in order to stay relevant.

However, as an artist, it is all too easy to become isolated in our own studio and in our practice. I’ve been pondering the thought of “what direction is visual art heading” for a while now, and so have begun to research online and reached out to my gallery owners, since they are on the front lines every day.

As we all know, trends come and go…that is the very nature of a trend, and that in part makes it cautionary. There are people who devote their lives to figuring out the next big trend. I don’t have time for that. For me and perhaps for you too, I want to know what I can do to stay relevant (marketable) while staying true to who I am as an artist. I’ve found a number of articles online that focus on art market trends, and one major commonality is color trends in art and design as big indicators of what is selling.

The hot color for 2019? According to the Pantone Color Institute, it is Living Coral, “An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge”. Wow! That color wields a lot of power. To play off of this, perhaps a work of art could be created incorporating a coral hue, or colors that complement it. It is a small tweak that could have a major impact on your art sales. I’m not suggesting that it should take over your studio, but keeping it in mind in your regular work or creating a few specific pieces featuring a trending color might not be a bad idea. Other trends the online articles point toward are pastels as the new neutrals, (which makes sense given this year’s color of the year) abstracts, a nod to art deco influenced images, the re-emergence of surrealism (possibly via digital photographic work) modern takes on traditional portraiture, minimalist line drawings, and on and on. There isn’t any one trend, there are several, and that is why I suggest doing your research and then choosing something you can incorporate without a total overhaul of your work.

The internet is a great resource, of course, but for me I really wanted to hear from the people who are in the business of curating art, interacting with a number of different artists as well as hearing what the art collecting world is talking about, looking for, and buying on a daily basis; so I turned to my gallery owners. Here are the questions I put to them, and their responses, of which I’ve edited a few for space.

West End Gallery storefrontJesse Gardner-owner of West End Gallery in Corning, NY

  • Have you noticed any major trends or changes in the original work being created by artists over the last couple of years? Commonalities in subject choice, color palettes, etc...
    • I feel our audience is open to more than the traditional representational work we've exhibited in the past. Brighter palettes. Whimsical and funny artwork. We're expanding the subject, style and mediums we show at the Gallery while retaining our focus on the highly talented artists within our region.
  • What is something you see happening in the art world in the near future?
    • Artwork rental. We recently started a commercial artwork leasing program. It has been successful so far.
  • Have you noticed a shift in collector preferences? Large vs. small works, a certain media, price points, etc...
    • Smaller work. We've been approached in the last 5 years by an increasing number of collectors who have run out of wall space, are moving, retiring and/or downsizing and want to re-sell their artwork.
  • Do you have any tips or suggestions for our visual artist readers?
    • Understand what is appealing to us in an Artist as a Gallery (at least West End Gallery):

Respectful (especially of time)
Faithful/loyal (to the policy and Gallery) 
Prompt (meets deadlines for images, artwork, etc...)
Open to constructive feedback
Participates in exhibits/events (provides new artwork regularly, artist demos, attend receptions - which also supports fellow Artists)
A distinct Artist voice
Confident, yet humble

  • What is appealing to us in artwork as a Gallery (at least West End Gallery)

First and foremost, high-quality artwork
Professional presentation (expensive custom framing is not necessary. Think professional looking - no duct tape or hot glue please. Yes, I've seen this)
Consistency, Consistency, Consistency ( quality, subject, framing)
Balance of colors/palette
Balance and strength of subject
Affordable artwork
A variety of sizes/price points
Marketability in our region
Subject and style that appeals to our clients specifically
Unique style/process/subject matter and/or palette specific to the potential Artist
*Experimentation is okay. Painting for yourself is okay. It is encouraged. Just understand, the resulting artwork may not be a good fit for your Gallery (as far as sales go). Continue on. Create for yourself when you need to.

Please visit West End Gallery online

Aspen and Evergreen storefronSarah Rohwedder-owner of Aspen and Evergreen Gallery in Estes Park, Colorado

  • Have you noticed any major trends or changes in the original work being created by artists over the last couple of years? Commonalities in subject choice, color palettes, etc...
    • The Estes Park market continues to thrive on regional art. We find local customers love to saturate their lives with mountain themed living. Visitors to the area are also seeking to take home a piece of the Rockies.
  • What is something you see happening in the art world in the near future? Have you noticed a shift in collector preferences? Large vs. small works, a certain media, price points, etc...
    • We have seen a trend to smaller pieces, including extended narrow verticals. With the continuation of the open floor plan boom, and large windows to take in the Colorado landscape; we find people commenting on a lack of wall space to display art. This also has resulted in the popularity of functional art, such as stoneware, glassware, and wearable art.

      One last thing I can say I have heard over and over from customers is; "You should surround yourself with only things that make you smile." I suspect it came from a popular TV host or other such thing, but wherever the origin, the push seems to be for "feel good" art.

Please visit Aspen and Evergreen Gallery online

enormous paintingI am very grateful to both Jesse and Sarah for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully to my questions. While there are some things that are specific to each gallery (perhaps due to their location) overall what they’ve said is good to keep in mind for the good of your art and your relationship to your gallery no matter the part of the country you live in. I noticed that although their answers were somewhat similar, one thing they both said specifically was a shift to smaller sizes due to a lack of wall space in collector’s homes. I’ve noticed this in my own sales as well, although there is still a need for larger sizes and most likely that will continue as new collectors enter the market. What that says to me is, I need to be sure and have a number of small pieces for every one or two larger ones I create. I also noted that they both commented on a shift toward art that makes the collector feel good, the whimsical, funny, images that make them smile. Does that mean traditional subjects and styles are passé? Not at all. There will always be a want and need for traditional representational art. As I said earlier, trends come and go; tastes change, colors go in and out of style…but changing with the times, even in small ways, keeps you and your art from gathering dust. Until next time-


Additional articles for artist by Amy Hutto:

Technique in Texture

A Space to Create

Pick Me! Pick Me!